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Communication lacking between Village, F.D. after PESH violations

Poor communication between the Greenport Village Fire Department and Village Board members is contributing to communication issues with the Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau.

Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said Lamb & Barnosky LLP of Melville, representing the village, is in communication with PESH and informed the health organization they would deliver required information to them by Nov. 18. However, it did not reach PESH until Nov. 20, he said.

Though it was not a “harsh deadline,” the mayor said, there is a lack of communication between the two village entities and the fire department is not following established municipal guidelines.

Newly appointed Greenport Fire Department first assistant chief Wayde Manwaring and board members discussed ways to improve communication at a work session meeting last Thursday.

PESH conducted an inspection of the Third Street firehouse in July 2019 to ensure the fire department was operating according to national Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. Later that month, the village, which oversees the fire department, was found in violation of eight health and safety standards.

Mr. Hubbard said the village is nearing correction of the eight PESH violations. A final training session for fire department members took place Nov. 26 and related documents are expected to be sent to PESH by Nov. 27. After that, he said, all violations should be addressed.

If abatement deadlines are not met, PESH can assess a penalty of up to $50 per day for each non-serious violation and up to $200 per day for each serious violation.

But as those violations have been tackled, attorneys representing the village have struggled to maintain contact with the fire department, Mr. Hubbard said. One lawyer, he said, sent six emails to the department before requesting help from the village clerk to reach the Fire Council.

“We’re trying to give them information, and no one is responding to it,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We need to do something differently, because it’s not working.”

In response, Mr. Manwaring said that at an earlier Fire Council meeting some fire wardens suggested that a trustee attend their monthly meetings. Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said she would do so.

She also suggested that when the fire wardens receive a draft of their minutes, it be sent to the Village Board ahead of its work session meeting.

Trustee Peter Clarke said he is frustrated because time is being wasted by asking questions that should be answered promptly.

“We want everyone to move together, faster,” he said.

The mayor also recommended the Fire Council set up an email account that disseminates all messages to each fire warden. He asked that two fire wardens attend monthly Village Board work sessions.

At an Oct. 16 fire wardens meeting, warden David Nyce proposed that fire department hire an assistant to take on the roles of treasurer, secretary and administrative assistant. Mr. Nyce said that individual would attend finance meetings, wardens meetings and village work sessions.

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